Nursing paperwork could be slashed to improve patient care

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A streamlined patient risk assessment tool has the potential to dramatically reduce the amount of paperwork for nursing staff, leaving them more time for patient care. The tool – called RAIsoft Acute Care System - is a collaboration between The University of Queensland, Scandinavian company RAIsoft and Queensland Health. It has been successfully trialled at Brisbane’s QEII Jubilee Hospital.

UQ Centre for Health Services Research Director and Masonic Chair in Geriatric Medicine Professor Len Gray said an improved hospital patient risk assessment system was long overdue.

“I have visited hospitals around the world and I’ve never found a hospital that has solved this problem satisfactorily,” Professor Gray said.

“Typically, there is a bloated and inefficient patchwork of scales and risk assessments taken from different sources, with local nursing staff filling in the gaps. Nurses are usually required to complete between eight and 27 forms when assessing a patient, collecting between 150 and 500 data items – a process which can take up to two hours. Because hospital workers are busy, the paperwork is often left to the end of the day when there is a risk of it not being completed,” he said.

The digital RAIsoft Acute Care System reduces the critical information needed for a core assessment down to 60 items, which takes a nurse 15 minutes to complete.

Professor Gray said the system generated assessment scores and triggered referrals to allied health services as needed. “It makes clinical handover between shifts efficient and effective, reduces reporting requirements and provides timely information for targeted patient care. Longer term, it engages the whole health care team in continuous improvement of patient care, reduces readmissions and improves collaboration within and between hospitals,” he said.

UniQuest CEO Dr Dean Moss said the product could be scaled up for use by hospitals around the world. “These are the types of innovations that could improve patient care and management in our busy hospital systems. It’s a great example of UQ research driving dynamic, real-world solutions,” he said.